Summer Days

193C4126-B603-4014-83AD-3EB03731DDBEShane on one of the last tripsIt’s been over a month since I posted… how did that happen???

Camp is done and dusted again for a year. We had about 100 people attend and once again experienced God’s blessing on so many levels.

The theme of the camp was “Glorifying God Through Suffering”. And God sure tested Shane and Jemi again and again prior to camp. The tentative joke was that next year we must have as the camp theme, “God’s wonderful blessings”. So many things occurred which fell into the “trials and tribulations” category. But still, God did bless in so many ways!

I am “boat-boy” for camps. I make several trips back to Rzhyshchiv to pick up or drop people/produce off. I also do daily water-runs in which I pick up about 400 liters of deliciously sweet water from a place down river. This year, Shane’s boat broke down on the Monday, (our big transport day). Thankfully, we’d just found a good 20-year old motor from Europe which we attached to our boat the day before and IMG-0323once again, the “old faithful Soviet relic serviced us for the entirety of camp. Admittedly, we still had some hiccups with the motor along the way… but God blessed, and we were eating the traditional end-of-camp meal in our kitchen by 6:00 Saturday evening with a working boat in the dock.

The four speakers at camp this year were used by the Lord to bless a lot of people. We also seemed to have a large group of people who were continually sacrificing all week to make camp run smoothly. And the weather!!! Perfect weather all week. Aaaaah…

Oh! I did come down with sunstroke mid-week… an interesting and unexpected experience which put me flat on my back for a few hours with tremors, a fever and a strong desire to not move an inch. It sounds absurd, but determining the cause was a tricky one. I hadn’t been in the sun for much. I’d been drinking a lot. I wasn’t overheated. Shrug. But for some reason, it was in God’s plan for me to be at half-strength for a day and a bit. For anyone interested in experiencing it for themselves… I’d advise a pass on this one.

It feels as if we’ve not heard of a covid sufferer amongst our friends/acquaintances for yonks. A few months ago, about 400,000 people were “active cases” in IMG-0331Ukraine. The last couple of weeks though, we’ve been at about 10,000. That’s a big decline. And even though masks are still in vogue… the attitude of 99% of people is “Jamaica, man.” We shall see what the future holds…

Pris is doing well. She felt like there was a definite positive response to the platelet-rich plasma injections she received and is keen to do it again in a few months to see if she will again experience improvement. We are so grateful to the Lord for the generosity of His people in seeing that we have money for these things. Suffering is good for our hearts in so many ways… but it’s also wonderful when God wills an end to suffering.

1622797723988401We talked a bit last night about the future of our kindergarten and school. We have a lot of challenges to overcome, but the expectation is that we will have a kindergarten in the church this year. I’ve learned that the biggest key to the success of any ministry is the people involved… and God has prepared some special people to serve in this area! I’m delighted… and excited to see things progressing.

Dima, one of the guys who left rehab back in late May is back with us again. May this be his last rehab ever! He and the other guys will be with me tomorrow as we continue work on the church building and grounds. I think there’s 12 men in the first stage of rehab right now. We are becoming more systematic in what we cover with the guys while they are in the first stage. For the first five years, we’ve primarily relied on intense Scriptural immersion and have generally managed to cover most important subjects. I think we’re heading in a healthy direction – even though I love the relational approach we’ve been known for.

We were due to accept a young 19-year-old this week. His father, a man who had gone through rehab before in another center, had been doing drugs with him. His father eventually went back to rehab a few weeks ago and the son was meant to come here. Instead, the son went to church on Sunday and convinced the father to leave rehab. A Christian brother went round to the apartment the next day to try to convince them to do God’s will… only to discover the father weeping over the dead body of his overdosed son. Agh! The poor man! It turned my thoughts to my own son and the special grace God has shown us. How grateful I am. And how much I feel for this father who is no doubt devastated at the repercussions of his sin.

May God have mercy on us.

Mundane windows

IMG_0132A mundane start to this blog:  Talk about windows.

The long-awaited window has arrived. I’ve been hoping to put a door and window in our kitchen for a few years and had kept my eye out for a second-hand one. I gave up on that thought earlier this year and decided to order one new. I had half-a-thought that I would get it in for Priscilla’s birthday, which we celebrated yesterday, but was tardy on the ordering and it only arrived today. It will change things up well when I do get it in though and the pull will definitely be there to get it in over this next week. I’m surprised…  I’m excited at the thought!

Pris continues the rehab for her back. As I type, we we are in Kiev for a strange procedure that the doctors have suggested we “resort to” on the off chance it may make a difference. (She is having her blood taken and treated so that the red blood cells are removed, then injected back into the places of her back and right side which are seized up.) We trust God and His perfect will and are hoping that it is to use this to give more relief.  (She should be out in about an hour, so I think I’ll have this finished and sent off by then.)

Life continues with regular unexpected experiences. A few days ago, our car served as a livestock transporter. Mitya and I picked up some more goslings for the two guy’s homes in the village and then brought back three sheep to be used as a lawnmower at Tolic and Natasha’s in Rzhyshchiv for the summer. The sheep were by far the trickier and smellier cargo. (Advice: if ever you transport sheep in a car, tie up BOTH front and back hooves.)  And if you just though that you’d never find yourself in that sort of situation, let me know when you’re coming for a visit and we’ll see what we can organize! 

God continues to show grace to the guys in the two rehab homes we have. However, after the last few weeks, it doesn’t feel as if things are going that well for us with the third stage guys. Three different men have been lured away by their weak flesh and the siren call of their old life. I think at least two of these guys are probably a part of God’s family, and if God chooses to show them mercy, there will come a time when they will seek God and His kingdom again. It’s still tough to see this happen though! The disappointment at losing a few guys who we loved is somewhat tempered by the knowledge that there are several men who are giving a lot of glory to God and encouraging us… but still.  I hate the negative goodbyes.

IMG_0129Once a week now, I am going out with one of the guys to talk with people in one of the nearby smaller villages. It’s been several years since I went out specifically and regularly with the intention to share the gospel with people and it’s been wonderful to get back into it. It goes without saying that we don’t do it for the warm fuzzies… but honestly, both of us return home feeling as if we can’t wait for next week!  We are praying that more people get the vision and start doing this in other villages.

We are well recovered from Covid… as is everyone in our church. Interestingly enough, the people who suffered the most were three men who were close to 50… me included. Sergei, “camouflage cap,” was one of the three and is a happy watcher when work is going on.  :)  This covid enemy sapped our strength, took away our sense of taste/smell, and gave us a heavy feeling in our chests as we felt the lack of oxygen. God’s mercy was evident though as none of us needed to go to hospital – something for which I’m deeply thankful.

imageWe’ve come to the end of our first term of taking in kids after school. Numerous people in our church have given of their time and resources to help from 5-7 kids with their homework several days a week and simply spend time with them. Jemi has done an excellent job of organizing everything and it’s definitely been wonderful for these kids. On Saturday, they went to the zoo in Kiev and according to Elle, loved every minute! Most of these children come from homes of local alcoholics and it is our prayer that God use this in their lives to draw them to Himself.

The kindergarten for church littlies has also had a good start. I’m not sure where God will take this ministry, but it will be interesting to see exactly how He plans on using it.

Oh! I meant to add at the end of the last post… “not really 1000 bottles”. Of course, not 1000 bottles!

May God bless you!

Bundaberg GB in Ukraine

IMG-0008We have lift-off… and are now doing our bit in carrying the little covid-19 virus to other parts of the globe, country, town and neighbourhood.

Last week, I started to feel seedy. On Sunday, it was confirmed when I lost all ability to taste anything, that I had covid, but we went and did a test anyway. The tests revealed that Pris, Elle and I all have it and we’ll miss celebrating Ukrainian Easter with the church as we wait out a quarantine period. We’re in pretty good company, as about 20 people in our church are sick with it right now, (none of us thus far requiring hospitalization). I sure don’t envy those who do hard yards on this virus though. I feel as if I’ve been breathing through a thick blanket for far too long… and I don’t have one of the heavy cases.

An incredibly ironic thing happened this past week. Before she got sick earlier this week, Ellie was in a supermarket in Kiev strolling along an aisle when her eye was caught by a truly astounding sight - Bundaberg Ginger Beer in Kiev! (I got her to buy 1000.) The irony is that for the first time in my 29-odd years of living in Ukraine, were I to open a bottle, I wouldn’t be able to taste it. It will keep.

IMG-0005We have been getting in wood for next year for our home as well as the church building. This truck and trailer got delivered yesterday. Our men will set-to over the next few months sawing and chopping and stacking… and I’m hopeful that we will have enough wood for the whole of next season.

As you can see in the first photo above, we went out for a walk along the cliff-tops on the edge of Rhyshchiv this morning. The comment was given that, “God has truly put us in a beautiful place in which to live!” Spring on the river!!!


Christ IS Risen

fffggTo those in the Western World who care about such events: “Christ is Risen!” And you are risen with Him.

In this day and age, I fear that many of us read too many words for us to be sensitive to the vitally important ones when they broach the horizons of our mind. My spirit is “dulled by the glut”.

Carefully worded: I am risen with Christ in that I am no longer dead in my sins. I am drawn to God. I take delight in worshipping Him and want to glorify Him and do what pleases Him. Why? Because I am just so wise and good and clever? Rubbish. God has given me the gift of making me alive with Christ! Ripper! Talk about a privilege and a half!

Good news, ladies and gents: Christ is risen!